By Representative David Gomberg, House District 10
Dear Neighbors and Friends,
As Oregonians receive their property tax bills this month, most of us can expect to see increases.
Generally, Oregonians won’t see their taxes rise more than 3% from last year. Under a 1997 Oregon measure to curb rising tax bills, property taxes are calculated based on the “assessed value” of a home, typically tied to the home’s 1995 value plus a 3% annual increase — instead of how much the home would fetch on the open market.
Oregon’s complicated tax laws have long detached actual home values from taxation. That means that, in a sense, homeowners in the hottest real estate markets are getting a far better deal. In many areas, real home values have risen much faster than other parts of the state. The caps have succeeded in keeping property taxes relatively predictable and far lower than if they rose with their home value — the price homeowners could get for their house.
But another result is that Oregon homeowners with similar home values, or even similar homes in similar neighborhoods, can owe wildly different property taxes. And in areas with lower home prices, homeowners sometimes pay a far greater percentage of their home’s value. That’s essentially because their homes haven’t appreciated as much as those in hot markets.
Counties set rates and collect property taxes and distribute the funds to county agencies and among other local taxing districts, including city governments, public schools, fire and port districts.
Some counties will see bigger increases in their overall collections. Taxpayers could see their bills rise faster if they make major renovations to their homes that increase the home’s assessed value, or if voters approved local bonds or levies that would increase tax rates.
Remember that across our district, many of the highest-value properties are owned by absentee residents of other counties and states, thus driving our per-capita numbers up. State residents who are disabled or senior homeowners may qualify for Oregon’s tax deferral program and borrow from the State of Oregon to pay their county property taxes. Qualified homeowners repay the loan amounts when their properties are sold with 6% interest. Read more on tax deferrals and get instructions here.
This interactive map allows you to compare property taxes in each Oregon County. This story in the Oregonian provides additional details while ranking property tax rates by county. And this link provides a brief history of Oregon’s property tax system.
Homeowners must postmark the first installment of their taxes by November 15, and the other two by February 15 and May 15. Those who pay the entirety by the first deadline receive a 3% discount.
Oregonians pay a variety of taxes in addition to property taxes.
How does Oregon’s tax code compare? Oregon has a graduated individual income tax, with rates ranging from 4.75 percent to 9.90 percent. There are also jurisdictions that collect local income taxes. Oregon has a 6.60 percent to 7.60 percent corporate income tax rate and levies a gross receipts tax. Oregon does not have a state sales tax.
Oregon’s tax system ranks 24th overall on the Tax Foundation 2023 State Business Tax Climate Index.
Check the tax climate for businesses in each state here. Check property tax rates by county across the nation here.
Exploding lithium-ion batteries are leading to more fires in Oregon’s landfills and recycling centers.Lithium batteries can be found in a variety of household objects, ranging from cars to power tools and from e-bikes to birthday cards that play music when opened. When run over by tractors or crushed in a trash compactor, they have the potential to explode and catch fire.
Because of this, the batteries are considered hazardous and aren’t allowed in our landfills. Many end up there anyway. People looking to throw away lithium batteries should bring them directly to the landfill or sanitary centers, where operators can discard them properly.
The Knott Landfill in Deschutes County has seen 21 fires from exploding lithium batteries in the past three months. On multiple occasions, garbage trucks have arrived at the landfill with a fire smoldering in the back.
Battery fires aren’t a new issue.The Federal Environmental Protection Agency issued a report in 2021 analyzing the impact of these batteries on fires in waste management facilities. The agency found 245 separate fires across 28 states, some of which led to entire buildings burning down. Recycling centers were at particular risk of fire damage.Earlier this year, the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office started tracking fires stemming from lithium battery explosions.
|Early Thursday I went to Samaritan Hospital in Lincoln City for a minor medical procedure. I’ll spare you the details except to say that it involved a lot of clear liquids for several days, was painless and easy, and that everyone over fifty should get this important exam.
I mention this because of a conversation I had with one of the nurses as they wheeled me to the surgical room. I asked how long they had been in Lincoln County. “I was born here,” he replied. “I graduated from Newport High and then got my nursing degree from Oregon Coast Community College.” I drifted off to sleep with a smile.
Felt good enough Thursday afternoon to attend the donor/scholar reception for the OCCC Foundation at the college in Newport. Still wearing my hospital wristband, I told the room my story.
“This is what we are all about,” I said. “We need nurses here. We’re raising them here, educating them here, and keeping them here!” We’re growing our own nurses, teachers, welders, and small businesses. We’re investing in our most important resource – our students. And in so doing, we are investing in our own future and the strength of our communities.”
|Susan and I have made an annual contribution for local scholarships. And being at the reception Thursday, we were able to hear from students, sit down with students, and learn from students. It was a remarkable evening and the process of sending a check each year became very real and very personal.
I’m a believer in our local schools and colleges and convinced they change lives and communities.
|Earlier this month, I wrote about the future of our roads and how we pay for them as gas tax revenues decline.
|A few days later, the Wall Street Journal wrote about the same issue and quoted me about the challenges rural drivers may face.
David Gomberg, a Democratic state representative in Oregon and co-chair of the Budget Committee, expressed concern that road-use taxes will promote geographic discrimination. “People who live in rural communities drive more than people in urban communities,” he notes. “You drive further to get to work, to school, to the store.” Basing fees on fuel efficiency also concerns him. “Often people in rural communities have less fuel efficient vehicles. You don’t put a bale of hay on the back of your Tesla.”
We’re looking at a seismic shift in how we pay for roads. Nothing is off the table.
If Oregon has learned anything after 22 years of study—including a voluntary program to tax based on miles driven that attracted fewer than 1,000 participants—it’s that the road to finding an alternative to gasoline taxes is filled with potholes. It may include mileage fees, higher registration costs, or tolls.
I’ll be driving that bumpy road for the next few months. Speaker Rayfield has asked me to join the Special Subcommittee on Transportation Planning.
|I enjoyed a recent article about Depoe Bay in the Oregon Coast Beach Connection. “The Lil’ Oregon Coast Bridge with a Kind of Secret Passage (That’s Safer Than Above)”.
The 1920s-era bridge provides something other Oregon coast bridges don’t – a means to cross it underneath. A concrete walkway extends there, giving way to unique views of this already-distinctive channel into the bay and smallest harbor in the world, affording opportunities to watch the whale watch tours and fishing rigs navigate their way through the narrow stretch.
|It’s a drier and much safer way to cross the bridge than the highway crosswalks above, where traffic is a bit maniacal on this portion of Highway 101.
The bridge was built in 1927 and designed by OSU grad Conde B. McCullough – who created many of the Oregon coast’s most scenic bridges.
|I was pleased to join the Lincoln City Chamber this week for a presentation by Siletz Tribal Chair Dee Pigsley. And it was a treat to call bingo numbers for the St. Augustine Church Gala-by-the-Sea event on Friday.
Hanging at the Chamber, calling Bingo at the Church, and honoring scholarship students at the College.
|Next Saturday I’ll be at the State of the Coast conference in Newport and the Lincoln City Chamber Awards Banquet that evening.
My schedule in district will be a bit light next week. On Tuesday I fly to Washington DC for a meeting at the White House to discuss infrastructure investments in rural communities. More on that next Monday in my weekly report.