Oregon Property Taxation 101

The earlier column “Taxed to Death? – Part 1 of 2” provided some history for how Eliot finds itself at the center of a policy debate about inequitable property tax payments by residents in newly “gentrified” areas and potential risks to us/them presented by some Legislative discussions. There was fear at the time the Legislature would make changes that would radically increase taxes in Eliot. That is not likely in this legislative session, but there is a proposal to revise how property taxes are levied that may have that result. The proposal hasn’t passed and just calls for a study to set the stage for that change. Because it hasn’t passed, Part 2 of “Taxed to Death” is postponed for now. Instead, this column provides a summary of the current assessment process. It also responds to a number of questions that have been asked about the prior column.

The State Department of Revenue is responsible for ensuring uniform taxation of properties in the state, although actual taxes are levied and collected at the county level. The guidelines for all counties are similar. Properties are assessed at “real market value” (RMV) using a common set of guidelines for property assessment; however, these are subject to adjustments by each county to reflect actual market conditions. That includes applying different criteria in different neighborhoods and in rural versus urban areas to capture market price trends. Property assessments are to be complete by September 25th each year and bills sent a month later. The tax year runs from July to July. The tax bill you receive in October is based on the Assessor’s estimate of RMV as of January 1st. So, if the Assessor calculated RMV for your neighborhood and your house in April, they adjust that value to what they believe it would have been on January 1. That establishes the RMV and for the tax bill in October. For structures without any modifications, “improvements” in tax language, this method is used for all comparable properties. A different method is used if improvements have been made after the previous tax year. As noted in the prior column, the property taxes that are due are subject to a tax cap established by Measure 50 in 1997, which was a Constitutional amendment and can’t be changed without a public vote. Measure 50 essentially froze the “tax assessed value” at the RMV in 1997, plus an allowed inflation adjustment. Properties that pre-date 1997 have their value (but not their taxes) capped as of 1997. The county is still required to reassess the RMV every year, it just can’t use the current RMV to calculate the tax bill, with one exception; if there are newly constructed “improvements.” New construction IS assessed at RMV; however, Measure 50 limits the “tax assessed value” to a fraction of that, roughly 60%.

There are two situations where a tax reassessment may occur. The first is when improvements are made to an existing structure, such as a new deck. The other is when a wholly new structure is added to an existing property. In the case of the new deck, the assessor estimates how much the new deck adds to the RMV and increases the value of the existing building by that amount. For example, assume your house has an RMV at $200,000 and the deck is estimated to add $50,000 to that.  You will be taxed for an improvement of $50,000. Where this gets tricky is when the “assessed value” for tax purposed is wildly different than the RMV; namely, homes built prior to Measure 50. In that case, the “tax assessed value” of the existing home may be $50,000, in which case the new deck would increase it. Assuming a Measure 50 cap of 60%, to $80,000 and nearly double the amount of taxes owed. The same is true for a wholly new structure, such as an ADU.

For new construction, the assessor will probably use a “cost” method to calculate the RMV. In other words, how much it cost to build the structure rather than its market value. The state provides cost guidance so this estimate is uniform across all new structures (with local cost adjustments). Returning to the example above, if a new ADU valued at $200,000 is added to the property instead of the $50,000 deck, the new assessed value will be $170,000 ($50,000 for the Measure 50 assessed value of the existing building plus 60% of the new $200,000 ADU; another $120,000).  The new tax bill will be over 3 times the previous bill.  

New construction presents a taxation challenge to both the assessor and the taxpayer; you. Recall that assessed values are based on the situation on January 1st. If construction began in June, there would be no improvements as of January 1, since construction hadn’t begun. So your October tax bill wouldn’t reflect the new addition. If the ADU is completed within the calendar year, its value would be added in the next year, and show up in the tax bill in the next October, over a year after construction began. If construction takes 12-months or is spread across two years, this process also extends two years. In that case, the assessed value during first July-to-July tax year is based on the value of the structure as it was on January 1 of the next calendar year. For a project started in June, that would be what was completed over the 6 previous months; an amount less than the value of the finished project. Assuming it is only 50% complete, the new assessed value would be half the value of the completed project. In our example, that would be $100,000 (of the $200,000 total cost) and would be reflected in the October tax bill the year after construction started.  Once the project is finished, the value the would be assessed at the full $200,000, but that wouldn’t show up until the next calendar year’s tax bill, because it won’t be until that tax year that the project will be complete as of January 1st. This lag in tax billing surprises many taxpayers as the see jumps in their taxes over multiple years; nothing in the year construction begins, a jump in the next year when construction is complete, and then yet another jump a year after the project finished. This last adjustment usually catches people by surprise.  

Assessors monitor improvements to existing structures and land through building permits, site visits, record checks, and notices from the population, say a neighbor. Untaxed improvements, called “omitted records,” result when discrepancies are found between the assessor’s records and field inspections. This can happen when construction was done without permits; however, all construction doesn’t require permits. It can also happen through errors in communication of construction activity between permit authorities and the county and mistakes in the assessment. In those cases, the assessor has the right to reassess RMV for the 5 prior tax years. When that occurs, the taxpayer is sent a notice that provides 20-days to correct an erroneous record.  A corrected assessment, including a bill for the 5-years owed, will follow. The taxpayer has a limited time to appeal the assessment, as it can for any tax bill. One problem with property taxation is that it is unlike income or sales taxes. We are used to the income tax process where we self-report our income and taxes and the IRS is responsible for any audits and tax adjustments after the fact. In the case of property taxes, the Assessor sets the tax amount and the property owner is responsible for verifying it is correct, and appealing if they feel it is not. In other words, property owners play the role of “tax auditor” to the assessor, which is just the reverse of what we know from income taxes.  

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Eliot Sewer and Stormwater Project Update

By Matthew Gough

In July or early August of this year, Environmental Services will complete a project to replace or repair approximately 10,000 feet of public sewer pipes in the southern part of the Eliot Neighborhood. These pipes are deteriorating due to age or are undersized for the sewer and stormwater flows in this area. The oldest pipe being replaced is 115 years old. 

The project also includes constructing eight green street planters on public streets in key locations. These green street planters will divert 1.9 million gallons of stormwater annually from the sewer system, helping reduce the possibility of overflows into the river, basement backups, and street flooding during periods of heavy rains. 

These improvements will help protect public health, property and our environment by reducing the possibility of sewage releases into streets, homes and businesses.

To learn more about the project, where crews are currently working, or to sign up for email updates, visit www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/Eliot. You may also contact Matt Gough, Community Outreach for City of Portland Environmental Services at (503) 823-5352 or Matthew.Gough@portlandoregon.gov.

Thank you for your patience during this important work.

Not Everyone Gets a Trophy

By Ruth Eddy

Gold, silver, blue, purple plastic pillars, and crystal bowls glisten in large corner windows on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, and Brazee Street. The Bardy Trophy showroom is hard to miss, but the business’s production goes mostly unseen and it’s legacy goes back 95 years.

Walter Bardy, Sr. began the business in the niche market of hand engraving silver and metal awards. The current owner, Greg Gruszczynski, knew nothing about the trophy industry when he answered a help wanted sign at Bardy, then located at 15th and Broadway.  “I sandblasted glass, built trophies, put plaques together, and magnets of the back of name tags. I did it all,” said Gruszcynski. He liked working with his hands, living close to his job, and the sense of completion that came with each order. When the Bardy brothers were ready to retire, they sold the business to Greg and two other employees. For the past 15 years, he has been the sole owner.

When people ask what he does, Greg says he “makes people happy.” Clients want to show their appreciation with a variety of products, not just trophies. The business includes custom apparel, keychains, clocks, thermoses, and chairs. Offices’ walls have transformed into cubicles and company logo jackets have replaced walnut plaques, but the message is the same. Greg knows that “It’s this mutual respect and admiration that you don’t always use words for. It’s a way of substituting words – to give somebody something and hope that translates into ‘I mean something to you’.”

As a business owner, Greg opts to bring donuts to show his employees he appreciates them rather than plaques. As a business, Bardy Trophy has a few trophies of its own, celebrating its contributions to its community both locally and in the trophy industry. A framed Trail Blazers jersey with the name Bardy on its back hangs their showroom, a gift from a repeat customer within the Trail Blazers organization. 95% of all orders come from Portland.

Trophies are symbols of the values people have and a way to reinforce those values.  Bardy Trophy is about making literal trophies as much as it is about helping customers celebrating milestones, recognizing accomplishments and making people feel worthwhile. Sometimes a handwritten card can send the message, but Bardy Trophy is for when you need something shiny to do the trick.

Portland Open Studios Provides a Peak Inside Northeast Studios

By Joanie Krug

Portland Open Studios creates a unique educational opportunity for the public to witness art in the making, and learn about media, materials and the business of creative endeavor. Through this interaction, Portland Open Studios creates a platform for local artists to thrive, engage and foster a community that values the arts.

This year, out of the total 118 citywide individuals selected, the juried group of artists includes 22 Northeast Portland artists whose studios will be open to the public. The work includes painting, ceramics, sculpture, photography, mixed media and jewelry.  The  NE Open Studios  community has also invited artists who participate in the Portland Art and Learning Center to take part in this event.

Dates and times are the weekends of October 12-13, and October 19-20. Hours are 10am to 5pm for each of the four days.

Look soon for the free official Open Studio map guide available all over the Portland metro area!  There will also be a NE Community card with a group map available throughout the neighborhood.

Portland Open Studios will also be convening a meeting of our community artists on August 28 at the Portland Art and Learning Center, 4852 NE MLK Blvd at 6:30 if you’d like to attend to meet some of the artists and chat further about individual work and the overall event.

Diversity Community Gardening Co-Op at St Philip the Deacon Church

By Shireen Hasan

Gardening at St. Philip the Deacon Church is in swing. People walking by are stopping to take a peek at what is going on behind this historic church. Community volunteers have rolled up their sleeves to bring this amazing opportunity into fruition for the community; from planting seeds and starters, native plants, flowers, and watering, to laying bark chips, soil/compost, and building. Thank you to all the community participants, local residents of Eliot neighborhood, church members, and local organizations who have supported this initiative by donating hoses, plants, compost, starters, and other resources, supplies, and also monetary contributions to grow the community gardening initiative to feed the community!  Special thanks to Bellagio’s Pizza for donating massive amounts of delicious pizza to our garden party held on May 4, 2019! My stomach still hurts!

The team has so far built several garden beds for diverse community participation (African Americans, houseless, veterans, church members, youth, and low-income individuals). 

Work is being done around the church property to beautify the environment and ‘raise the vibration’. The Co-op is in conversation with Zenger Farms to bring in their farm’s extra harvest to allow folks complimentary access to healthy fruits, and vegetables at the church location. 

The initiative had suffered some setback and in moving forward to overcome a few barriers we are asking for the community’s continued support, contributions, and labor assistance to build an accessible garden bed for folks with disabilities who otherwise would not have access to gardening opportunities. 

We are also asking for a donation of a nice bench for the upcoming meditation area that will be designed for the church. In addition, we are looking for experienced or well-versed African American artists to work in collaboration with Reverend Maria, and current member artist, Su(e) Diyg, to preserve the memory of North/Northeast Portland’s African American diaspora by creating visual art for all to see and remember. 

Come join in with gardening fun, starting every Saturday in July from 11AM-1PM to continue the expansion of community gardening to feed the community and to add a nice, new makeover to the church grounds in the months to come!  

For more information email the coordinator, Shireen: at shihas_2005 at yahoo dot com.

Beer, Tamales, and Coffee: A Perfect Recipe of Collaboration

“This town is about collaboration,” says Thad Fisco, owner of Portland Kettle Works and Portland’s craft beer lab, Labrewatory. In 2015, Labrewatory opened in Lower Albina with Thad purchasing the building at 670 N Russell Street, a few blocks north of Interstate, and it has been the definition of collaboration in every sense of the word. Brewers from around the city come together to create beers which are creative and delicious. For the first couple of years, beer was the headliner at this storage facility turned brewery. That is changing now.

In 2011, Portland Kettle Works designed a new brew system and brewers immediately started placing orders. Craft beer, it turns out, was the one part of the economy that was doing well during the recession. Sales have continued and their brewing systems are now in over 250 breweries worldwide and going strong. 

Now Portland Kettle Works was off and running and they had a building to house equipment. Thad says that “we decided to open a brewery of our own because we were very active in putting breweries into business but hadn’t started our own yet and so we kind of looked at it as a challenge and a learning experience so we could be more informed about what we were selling to people. What an experience it has been!”

“Now we get to start doing some new things down here!” says Rachel Wilson, owner of Dawn Patrol Coffee and brewery manager. “At the beginning of the year, we added the coffee shop and extended our hours.” Dawn Patrol operates at Labrewatory in the morning hours from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm. Tamale Boy started providing burritos in the morning starting at 8:30 am and beer can be sold any time of day.  “We also have different beer and coffee cocktails and growlers to go,” Rachel adds. Rachel has also taken on distribution selling kegs of La Brewatory’s beer to different restaurants and bars like Loyal Legion.

 Rachel continues, “We really started focusing on community events. We’re trying to bring in a different crowd of people and having the neighborhood have a place to meet. There are many different events and groups that meet at Labrewatory such as a moms club and the NoPo running club. There is even a $1 neighborhood discount for those customers who live or work in the neighborhood.” 

“On Tuesdays, there is a new beer release. At 5:00 people come in and we’ll put a new beer on tap and Nick, our brewer, will take those (who have purchased a tour ticket) around and then they get their t-shirt. And there’s live music between 6 pm and 8 pm,” Rachel explains. 

Labrewatory hosted a Smash festival celebrating the 100th brewed beer and tied in a nonprofit to work with, which was Special Olympics. In July they hosted a “Go Fund Me” for a friend of Rachel’s who had a climbing accident. Soon, on August 17th, there will be an S’mores event, called Mighty Clementine, designed by a customer’s daughter, Clementine, who recently has recovered from an aneurysm. She chose the nonprofit, Randall Children’s Hospital Pediatric Development and Rehabilitation Fund, and also will choose the flavors of the s’mores. 

 In addition, there are the classes that both La Brewatory and Tamale Boy offer. Classes are offered to all of the Portland Kettle Works clients. They get all of La Brewatory’s operating procedures for the front of the house, operating procedures for the brewery and get to see financial analysis. It gives the new brewery owners an idea on how to operate their business. 

Jaime Soltero, Jr., owner of Tamale Boy, says, “Our philosophy is to always be training and always be evolving and getting people situated, getting their brains right and their work ethic right and let them go and explore themselves. We work with a couple of organizations that come and prep and train here so that they can get them back into the workforce. We have a person that actually went blind that used to work in the kitchen and we have gotten him back in the kitchen. That helps us also really think about what we’re doing and how we go about things. It’s a humbling experience for sure. That’s just one of the programs. We also support our community with gift certificates, fundraisers, and whatever we can do.”

The collaboration has been good for all three businesses. Thad says, “When Jaime came in with Tamale Boy our beer sales increased 30% when they opened their doors. That’s one thing we teach people. If you don’t have food you’re basically cutting yourself off at the knees. So you have to have some way to serve food and the better the food the better. So it’s been a great partnership.”

Jaime agrees, “It actually it worked out perfectly because at that time I was looking to expand to a commissary kitchen because where I started off at Dekum (first location of Tamale Boy) it was super small and we were already saturated. Summers we were packed to the gills and we needed more space. Thad got wind of me and we got started and it’s the perfect marriage. We don’t have to worry about anything in the dining room.” 

“It’s really interesting,” Thad says, “that’s the part of overhead that a restaurant hates, is the dining room, but that’s the part that we want – for people to hang out and drink beer. We tell a lot of clients if you can lease the kitchen out and keep the people in the dining area drinking beer as long as you can…” 

“And coffee!” Rachel chimes in. “It IS the perfect marriage!”

Rachel says, “The fun thing is that with this space we can have all these people that want to have an event and Labrewatory can offer the beer, Tamale Boy supplies the food and then there is a different kind of profit without having to rent an event space so more of the proceeds can go to the business holding the event.”

With any business and especially with this unique collaboration there are going to challenges and surprises. Jaime says, “We’re always adjusting- we’re learning together. Everybody’s strengths we pull in together and learn from each other.” Thad says, thinking about the challenges, the important thing is, “Keeping Rachel! Plus, without this (La Brewatory) I wouldn’t have been able to grow my business and without Jaime, I wouldn’t have had food to offer. We push the edge to find new revenue streams and are backed by Portland Kettle Works so we can take risks.”

Lastly, Rachel says, “It’s fun!” She is learning about the financial side of a business, managing skills, and is challenged to find new businesses with items that are needing distribution to offer at the taproom, as well as trying to scale cold brew coffee which will be on one of the taps at the brewery. 

The classes that are offered by Thad and Jaime help pop-ups which in turn are helping our community become stronger and offer diverse food and beverages to all of the Portland metro area.

So if you have an inkling to start a brewery or restaurant, check in with this successful team on North Russell. Collaboration is the name of the game and to sum it up, referring to the old television sit-com, Jaime says, “We’re very tight here. We’re very three’s company.”

Upcoming Event: 

Mighty Clementine

Saturday, August 17, 12-5 pm

Benefit for Randall Children’s Hospital Pediatric Development and Rehabilitation Fund

For more information:

Labrewatory/Dawn Patrol Coffee

670 N Russell St

Hours: Monday to Friday Open 7 am, Saturday and Sunday Open 9 am, closing times vary

Contact: 971-271-8151, www.labrewatory.com

Tamale Boy

668 N Russell St

Hours Monday – Sunday Open 11 am, closing times vary

Contact: 503-477-6706, www.tamaleboy.com

Free for All Summer Concert and Movie in the Park

Image of a bad playing at the gazebo at Dawson Park

It’s that time again and Black Parent Initiative (BPI) has teamed up with Portland Parks & Recreation to bring you another amazing fun filled event.  On Friday, August 16, 2019, we will be hosting Movie in the Park in collaboration with Portland Parks & Recreation’s Summer Free for All.  Similar to last year’s concert series, but all tied into a one-day spectacular event.  BPI will also be celebrating another successful year in services to the community by adding elements of our Family Fun Day.

We have the pleasure of bringing you a host of activities including: 

♦ Portland Trail Blazers Basketball Clinics

♦ Nike “Made to Play” Activity Van

♦ Bouncin Bins Bounce House

♦ Mystique’s Fancy Faces Face Painting

♦ PACKY Academy Arts & Crafts

♦ SMART Book Give Away

♦ Eliot Neighborhood Association Domino Tournament

♦ Portland Children’s Museum

♦ And many more

The event will start at 4 pm with activities going until about 7 pm.  As a part of the Movie in the Park there will be a concert at 6:30 pm featuring Mz. Etta’s World, followed by a showing of Captain Marvel when it gets dark!  

Food trucks on site include Hana’s Authentic New Orleans Snowballs and Stoopid Burger.

There will be tons of giveaways, drawings, and resources!  Make sure you join us as we celebrate community, music, and movies!  This will be fun for the entire family.

Friday, August 16, 2019

4pm

Dawson Park 

(corner Stanton & N Williams)

For more information or to become a sponsor please contact leigh dot bohannon at thebpi dot org.

For the full schedule of Summer Free For All Concerts and Movies in the Park visit:

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/69554

By Leigh Bohannon

Sponsored by: